Articles by: James Swackhammer

James is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Application Expert based in the Javelin Oakville head office

Using existing geometry to create Etch Marks in SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal Parts

SOLIDWORKS Etch Marks

When designing sheet metal parts within SOLIDWORKS you may want to add in etch marks to be etched later by the laser or HD plasma machines. Adding etch marks helps communication for later options. My example here is a part that’s going to be laser cut and I want to notify the machinist what size I want these holes to be and the center point for locations. Create Configurations for laser cutting I start off with my finished parts with all the profiles and holes in. I would then create configurations called Laser and Machined. While on the Machined configuration I have a of couple options: I can either suppress the Hole Wizard features or create another feature to cover/fill the holes. We do this because most laser machines cannot tap holes or create nice counter-bores. It also depends on the tolerances you may want, as you may want the…

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How to automatically create a SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal Flat Pattern Configuration

If a job can be automated in SOLIDWORKS and reduces the amount of time it takes to create I say do it, especially if it works every time. The flat pattern can be created automatically while making a drawing and since most parts require a drawing why not make your life a little easier with this tip. What I have here is a basic 12″ x 12″ x 12″ box that you’ve probably seen a few times if you’ve followed these sheet metal articles. For this scenario I have to make a drawing for this part so it can go to the shop for forming. I also need a flat pattern to send to the laser. We can complete two processes in just one activity. From the part I’m going to the white page at the top for New –> Make a Drawing From Part/Assembly –> choose the template I…

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Applying Decals with Background Masking in SOLIDWORKS – Part 2

Building on the previous article about adding a decal and masking the background, there are occasions where we need to take masking a step further to get  the desired result. I’m going to add another decal below my Javelin decal. This is the same procedure of right clicking in the open area and clicking Add Decal. Browse for the required picture and select the face. I’m going to position and size this to match the previous decal. Back to the Image tab and the Mask Image area. We again want to remove the background and just have the text on the new decal. The option we did last time was to select Use Decal Image Alpha Channel, but that doesn’t work. We can do a Selective Color Mask. Here we can click on the eye dropper and select the background. This usually works out but this time we have some…

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Applying Decals with Background Masking in SOLIDWORKS – Part 1

Have you ever applied or used decals in SOLIDWORKS? What I learned is that not everything has the background colour you need for the decal you have. Sometimes you just want the background of the decal to match the colour of the object you’re putting in. Thankfully SOLIDWORKS  has a solution for that and it’s called (background) masking. What I have here is a basic mug and I want to add the Javelin Logo as a decal to it as shown in the image below: To add in a decal go to the Display Manager tab –> select the Decals button –> right click in the open area below and choose Add Decal Next, we need to browse for our picture and click open. Now we need to select the face we want the decal to be on, I’m going to select the round face of the mug. Next we…

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SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal Sketch Bend vs Edge Flange

Sketch Bend vs Edge Flange

Today we are going to decide which is the better tool to use when adding flanges to a sheet metal part: Sketch Bend vs Edge Flange. Sketch Bend and Edge Flange are two very different tools that produce similar results. Why do they exist if they do the same thing? They exist because although the two may give similar results, they are applied at different times with different design intent. Let’s build a typical sheet metal box using the sheet metal features. We are going to make the same box as we did in my previous sheet metal versus article, which is a 12″ x 12″ bottom base with 12″ high edge flanges. Making this box was easy, right? Try making the same box using sketch bends. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. It’s quite difficult, isn’t it? The dimensions have to be perfect to get the same results as the edge…

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SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal vs Body Convert Part Creation Method

In this article I am going to make a very basic sheet metal box with two different creation techniques to determine which is more efficient, delivers more accurate results, and looks better. Before you jump to conclusions thinking which method is better, you might be surprised by the outcome. Stay tuned for the results. The two different creation methods are: Making the box using the body (boss extrude) with various support features, then using convert to sheet metal. Fully modelling the part using sheet metal tools. Method 1: Convert to Sheet Metal Start off by making a sketch 12″ x 12″ (start plane doesn’t matter here) and extrude mid-plane 12″ to get a cube. Next we need to make a 0.25″ fillet on the bottom 4 edges. A shell feature is needed after the filler and keep the wall thickness to 0.125″. This is starting to look like a sheet…

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Designing 90° Sheet Metal HVAC Duct – Advanced Tip 2

In part 4 of my making a Sheet Metal Duct guide, I showed how to get the best material yield. Today I’m going to show you how to add etch marks so that all parts can be rolled together as one, zip cut, reordered and then welded together. With the parts already placed together, copy it and move it beside the original making sure they are aligned. Next, draw a vertical line upwards, but have it aligned with the bottom. Draw this according to your manufacturing standards, I am using 4 inches and then drawing a horizontal line across both group of parts. This next segment makes the drawing very busy, but I promise it’s for a good reason. Use the “Copy” command to copy the two lines we just created and make the attachment point the bottom of the vertical line. Don’t use the Ctrl+C as this is a…

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SOLIDWORKS Base Flange vs Thin Feature

Wheel arch design required

Today we are going to decide which feature is the better choice in a particular design situation – in this example should I use a Base Flange (Edge Flange/Sketch Bend) method or a Thin Feature? If you have been creating SOLIDWORKS sheet metal parts for a while and haven’t been using the Thin Feature, you might be pleasantly surprised once you understand why and how to use them. Let’s review a case study. In this example we have a front wheel assembly that we need to make an inner wheel-well for out of aluminum as shown in the image below: The designer gave us a sketch in the assembly of the profile they want: For both methods (Base/Edge Flange vs Thin Feature) we are going to add a part into the assembly. This is considered to be in-context editing or top down assembly design. Using a Base Flange/Edge Flange To…

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